Unfair Fight Destructions of Words EP (Crucial 45)
This hardcore quartet has been slugging it out in the scene for at least half a decade. Their recent EP, released on the band’s own label, epitomizes everything good about punk—no-bullshit riffs, relentless drumming, raw vocals and pointed lyrics. The dynamic range of the songwriting is impressive, too. “As the World Burns” boils over with melodic guitar lines and gang-shouted vocals, while metal-edged “Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads” bites down with pit-bull-like ferocity.★★★★✩
Mercy Music/ No Red Alice
Here’s a split EP from two singer-songwriters—Mercy Music’s Brendan Scholz (who fronts Deadhand) and No Red Alice’s Sal Giordano (who plays with TheCore). Scholz puts his power-pop talents on full display with up-tempo, Squeeze-like “Repeat,” full of knotty chord changes and vocal harmonies, plus a stinging guitar solo. His ballad “The Sun Follows You” evokes Crowded House. An unrepentant acoustic-strummer, Giordano can’t match Scholz musically, but the heartsick passion he wrangles from “Saint Josephine” and “Theatricality & Deception” is stirring, too.★★★✩✩
Sin City Sinners Divebar Days Revisited (Self-Released)
I don’t review covers discs, but for the Sinners I’ll make an exception, especially since the material (Iggy and the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy”) is choice and the guest stars (ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke) copious. This is obviously an attempt to recapture the spirit of the band’s gritty origin—indeed, the Sinners used to convene and jam at local taverns during the mid-aughts before becoming an established lounge act. The reward here is hearing a punk-metal band connect the dots between glam-rock (Mott the Hoople’s “All the Way From Memphis”), classic rock (The Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”) and British prog-pomp (Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down”). Well done.★★★✩✩
Upcoming on Jarret’s radar …
JAN. 20: Scottish post-rock band Mogwai is set to release the darkly skewed Rave Tapes, brimming with creepy electronic and orchestral passages. First single “Remurdered” is ideal music to blast while burying a body in the woods. JAN. 28: Vegas resident and ex-Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee unveils his new project, Red Dragon Cartel. The band’s self-titled disc, released on Frontiers Records, is fierce fun, particularly psychedelic-industrial track “Feeder.” FEB. 4: Les Claypool (Primus) and a high-school pal (guitarist Bryan Kehoe) get their Deliverance-derived banjo on with a new musical project, Duo de Twang, inspired by hillbilly-moonshine jigs of the ’30s and ’40s. Debut disc Four Foot Shack features 15 songs—traditionals, Primus tunes, a Bee Gees hit and even a grunge classic by Alice in Chains. Quirky, to be sure.